New Delhi: The way Indian cricket is administered is about to change radically following the Supreme Court’s acceptance of the majority of the Lodha Committee’s recommendations on Monday. Changes must be implemented within the next six months, and that too under the supervision of the committee.
So far, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has been pretty guarded about what it plans to do about the order—it hasn’t said whether it will seek a review or how it will implement the radical changes recommended by the committee.
In its essence, Monday’s ruling shakes up the board’s decades-old structure, potentially smashing centres of power that have been at the heart of the clout that goes with being the BCCI, the world’s richest cricketing body.
Here’s how the SC verdict impacts on the working of the BCCI:
1) Duality of posts
One of the key recommendations of the committee, which the court has accepted, is abolition of the concept of dual posts, or holding two posts at the same time. When applied to the BCCI, that would mean holding a post in a state association as well as the BCCI. As it stands, it impacts the present group of office-bearers, including its president Anurag Thakur, who also heads the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, and secretary Ajay Shirke, who is also the president of the Maharashtra Cricket Association. When the recommendation is implemented, it would force the person concerned to choose between the state and BCCI post. The latter has obvious attractions, not least the clout on offer. While it could encourage and infuse some fresh blood at the state level, one of the unintended side effects could also be rule by proxy, with the powerful administrators putting in place individuals who will do their bidding.
2) One state, one vote
One of the more radical proposals by the Lodha Committee, the ‘one state, one vote’ formula means that states with more than one association—Gujarat (Saurashtra, Gujarat and Baroda) and Maharashtra (Mumbai, Maharashtra and Vidarbha)— will have voting rights on a “rotational basis”—one at a time. This formula could have implications for the traditionally powerful West Zone, which has political stalwarts like Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar (Mumbai Cricket Association) and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah (Gujarat Cricket Association) among its leading office bearers. The West Zone’s clout in the BCCI, which has been significant since the board’s inception, is now under threat or effectively diminished with only two votes, instead of the seven it held before Monday.
The committee has also relegated five non-territorial associations, which had voting rights, to associate status. These are Railways, All India Universities, Services (also known as institutional bodies) and two clubs—the National Cricket Club (Kolkata) and the Cricket Club of India (Mumbai).
3) No ministers, no bureaucrats
The SC order accepted the committee’s proposal barring serving bureaucrats and ministers from the BCCI and, by extension, the state association. Ministers and bureaucrats have associated themselves with the BCCI in the past, most famously Sharad Pawar, who led the board while he was union agriculture minister. Bureaucrats, especially in states like Tripura, have also involved themselves in cricket administration. The order could also potentially end Assam Cricket Association president Himanta Biswa Sarma’s brief stint at the top, given that he’s also a minister in the state cabinet.
4) Age limit, term limit
The committee proposed an age limit of 70 years for all BCCI members, which was upheld by the apex court. This could have an immediate impact, with several members of the BCCI (and state associations) over the age of 70, including the likes of Pawar, Niranjan Shah (Saurashtra Cricket Association) and N Srinivasan (Tamil Nadu Cricket Association). As per the order, they will have to step down from their posts within six months.
It also accepted a three-year, three-term limit for all BCCI administrators, with a mandatory cooling-off period of a term between two terms. This could mean shorter tenures for the current crop of administrators, but could also fuel proxies and rule by remote control with powerful office-bearers using so-called ‘dummies’ to keep the seat warm while they await their next term.
5) Players association
The SC has ordered the BCCI to establish a players’ association and fund it. The Lodha Committee had proposed that the association offer “membership to all Indian international and most first-class cricketers who had retired not less than five years ago.”
India is one of the few countries without a registered and active players’ association. There have been two previous attempts to set one up by ex-skippers. In 1989, Kapil Dev led the Association of Indian Cricketers and, in 2002, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi led the Indian Cricket Players Association during a standoff between players and the BCCI over a sponsorship/ambush marketing issue.